Monday, October 14, 2013

Traditionally Yours

Recently, apparently, there's been a lot of news surrounding a possible name change for the Washington Redskins football team after both President Obama and Bob Costas have made public statements about how racially offensive the name was to Native Americans. Honestly, I had to read up on this phenomena because NPR had their fall member campaign this last week and they've been a little less-than-informative with their breaking-news coverage. Don't scold me either, I've donated to NPR...I've got a window cling to prove it.

I didn't even realize that the Washington Redskins were even still a thing. Not only am I not a football fan, I also live in Pittsburgh, so lord knows that football journalists in this town bleed black and gold or they're run out of town by pitchfork-wielding yinzers. But still, that level of racially offensive nickname went out with the slow-talking, pelt wearing "Kemosabe" of the fifties western television show, right? I guess with Johnny Depp (of all people) green-lighting that kind of racism in the summer flop "The Lone Ranger," I should know that anything is possible.  How did I come to all of this now, miles behind everyone else? I got a text today from my husband with his coworkers' reaction to the Redskins debacle,

"It's those goddamned pussy-ass liberals that are ruining this country!"

My first reaction was to think that changing the name of a football team doesn't ruin America does it? No one can possibly think that! But alas, my reading set me straight: the term Redskins is a "tradition." The term traditional in America could easily be interchanged with patriotic for many citizens, despite the fact that these terms are nowhere near the same. I'd say that indoor plumbing isn't necessarily traditionally American, but we still seem to have really embraced it over the last few decades. Miley Cyrus isn't exactly the kind of woman that Susan B. Anthony was talking about when she fought for women's suffrage, but it seems that a lot of Americans can't get enough of the skank. Tradition is a two-way street, America.

It's weird how we've progressed as a society to a point where we're completely disconnected from our food, our land, and our sense of personal morality, but we're certain that the way that things used to be are much better than the way things are now. We simply must use the newest cell phone on the market and we pay someone to let us park our car in a garage, but we're certain that those racially and socially oppressive and offensive nicknames are totally legit by claiming their status as traditional in American lexicon. To say that they weren't would just leave you subject to your own offensive and oppressive slur...that of the "pussy-ass liberal."

I don't consider myself tied to any particular political group as I'm too apathetic and cynical to really care about our "government," but even I'm slightly charged to turn a mirror upon the face of American traditionalism/patriotism and demand to know where in the history books it was ever, "The Polarized States of America?" Where was it ever intended to be what once was should always be?

It is by its very definition that American is the land of progression, whether it be through Washington's plea for Americans not to be pulled down by any political party (well, we fucked that up), Dr. King's racially tolerant rhetoric (we fucked that up, too), or even Lee Greenwood's shitty song about being an American because at least he knows he's free. Feh.

The Washington Redskins. The Atlanta Braves. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish. All of these fall under the label of offensive monikers seen as traditional by the eye of an angry and threatened beholders. Beholders that love the newest Hemi in their truck, the newest reality show on TLC or the best factory-farmed hamburger their hard-earned money can buy.

Progression is a blame game when it can no longer be sustained by a polarized country. That's not what this is really about's about football.

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